Math centers are a great way to implement differentiated instruction into your current math program. At times, it is difficult to provide small group instruction during your math block. I know when I first began teaching, I focused my planning time on my literacy groups and did most of my math instruction as a whole group. I would set up basic math centers but would never really elaborate on my math centers and make sure that they were meeting the needs of all of my learners.differentiated instruction was important, I did not know how to incorporate it into my schedule on a consistent basis during that time.
During my third year of teaching, a new teammate introduced me to her routine for using math centers and small groups to provide more individualized instruction. Once I discovered that planning and teaching with math centers were not as time-consuming as I had once thought, I started including it into my program. Here are several things that I did to help me get started.
1. Pull groups - When I was starting to change my math instruction, it took me awhile to get the math center routine down. I wanted to monitor the learning stations in the beginning, so I would only pull one group a day. Once I was able to work with students and group them, I adjusted my lesson plans to fit the students' needs.
2. Start small - Math centers do not have to be elaborate. In the beginning, I set out a variety of manipulatives and blank pieces of paper. I would have students create their own story problems and explore math concepts. At another center, I would have students complete a worksheet. The other centers would include games, counting exercises, and flashcards drills.
3. Remember to assign partner activities - As teachers, we regularly assign partner reading, but I would sometimes forget to assign partner activities during math center time. Students can learn so many things working together during instruction time.
These are just some things I did in my classroom when I began incorporating centers and group instruction into my math program. Give it a try and see if it might work for you!